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Wolfsburg vs. Inter: Complete preview and live match thread

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The Volkswagen-owned club will be the next team Inter will have to face on the road to win the European competition. Here is a brief review of the team and the match preview for this Thursday.

Boris Streubel/Getty Images

History

The city of Wolfsburg was founded only 77 years ago, in 1938, only to house the workers building the well known Volkswagen Beetle. The company had their club, named BSG Volkswagenwerk Stadt des KdF-Wagen, but on September 12, 1945, a new club was formed known as VSK Wolfsburg, which, after a period of crisis that almost caused the end of its existence, changed their name in VfL Wolfsburg - VfL stands for Verein für Leibesübungen, that means "club for gymnastics". The next year Volkswagen decided to have them as the company team.

The team did not reach the top-flight German league until 1997, when they finished 2nd in the 2. Bundesliga. They instantly became a mid-standing team despite the recent promotion, and only two years after that they qualified to the UEFA Cup - finishing in sixth place! That squad was also coached by a man by the name of Wolfgang Wolf (I didn't make this up, I swear).

The 2007/08 was the turning point of the club history. After two disappointing season in which they just avoided relegation, they hired Felix Magath - former Bayern Munich manager - who helped them reach the fifth place of the Bundesliga, their best placement at the time. In the next season Wolfsburg had their biggest success, winning the Meisterschale, and equalling the record for most consecutive victories after the winter break (10) and having two players with 20 or more league goals scored in one season (Dzeko and Grafite).

2014/15 Season

This year the green and white team sit in the second spot of the German Bundesliga, eleven points behind one of the best teams of the world, talent-wise. They have scored 53 league goals (2nd best in the league) and conceded 28 (tied-3rd best). Wolfsburg are 9 points ahead of Borussia Mönchengladbach, which is just one spot behind them in the standings.

Wolfsburg lost their last game against Augsburg, but before that match, they had gone 14 games without losing. In all competitions the German side garnered 14 wins and 4 draws. Die Wölfe were also recently in search of their 12th consecutive positive result in the German league, which would have been a club record.

Die Wölfe are the only team that have been able to win against Bayern Munich this season, and they did it with an impressive 4-1 victory led by Bas Dost's double. The Dutch player is their top scorer with 13 goals in 13 appearances, 11 of them in the last 7 matches and 8 in the last 4.

They finished their Europa League group stage in 2nd place, just one point behind Everton. In the Round of 32, they handily dispatched Sporting CP by winning the home leg 2-0 with another double by Bas Dost, and playing the away leg to a goalless draw.

How they play

This season they consistently played with the 4-3-2-1, which help them share the ball, but at the same time allow their most talented individuals to stand out too. They have an experienced manager like Dieter Hecking directing the operations since 2012, so he had all the time needed to develop a playing style through the years and the results have been great.

Wolfsburg prefer to attack through the middle, using the speed and the creativity of the Belgian De Bruyne, but they also have great players on the wings such as Rodriguez, Jung, Vieirinha, Caligiuri. But in particular the World Cup winner André Schürrle, acquired this winter from Chelsea, is one of Wolfsburg's greatest threats. In the box, waiting for passes from them, there is Bas Dost, who has been almost unstoppable lately.

Key Players

  • Kevin De Bruyne
    He is the side's most talented player and the brain of the team. Having already collected 15 assists and 8 goals in the Bundesliga this season, he is the top scorer for Wolfsburg in the Europa League.
  • André Schürrle
    He just made the move from Chelsea for €32 Million where he had not been in great form, but he recently made two assists in his debut for the new team against Hoffeneim. He is a threatening wing player with great speed and a natural to cutt into the box and scoring some goals as well.
  • Bas Dost
    When Wolfsburg sold Ivica Olic, the Dutch player was the one chosen to replace him in the striker position and he answered the team's faith with some huge performances. He has an average of 1 goal every game in the Bundesliga with 13 goals in 13 appearances, getting ahead of Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski in the top scorer list for this season of the Bundesliga.

Match Preview

Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015

Venue: Volkswagen Arena; Wolfsburg, Germany

Time: 2:00pm ET / 19:00 CET

This is a big opportunity for Inter. They can show the world they can compete at a high level in Europe and they can build confidence by beating a strong opponent which is playing great this year. There will be no room for mistakes or sloppiness, and focus and aggressiveness will be the key elements if Inter are to get the result they desire.

Mancini wants to play with the best players he can, so he will not give resting time anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. So the starting eleven should be the same as usual, with the only exception being an alternation in the midfield. Hernanes will probably replace the ineligible Brozovic, but Mateo Kovacic could have a shot for the position too. The Argentinian looked to be in pretty good shape in the 27 minutes played against Napoli, so Mancini believes he will likely have a positive effect in such a crucial match.

Wolfsburg play fast-paced and creative football - just like Napoli - so it will be important not to repeat the same mistakes committed last Sunday. Inter would be wise to build on their fantastic play in the last 15 minutes of last week's match and apply them in their match against the Germans if they are to come away from the first match victorious.

STARTING LINEUPS

(lineups courtesy inter.it)

Comment on the match below! And Forza Inter!